AP NEWS

Record number of open meeting complaints resolved in 2019

February 9, 2020 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts attorney general’s office resolved a record number of complaints about violations to the state’s open meeting law last year.

The law requires that most meetings of public bodies — such as boards of selectmen and school committees — be held in public.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said her office’s Division of Open Government resolved a historic 351 complaints in 2019.

That’s a dramatic increase from the 235 complaints resolved in 2018, the 249 complaints resolved in 2017 and the 253 complaints resolved in 2016. The division was created in 2010.

The most frequent violations included: insufficiently detailed meeting notices; failure to properly respond to a request for meeting minutes; convening in executive session for an improper purpose; and failure to follow appropriate procedures for entering executive session.

The findings are outlined in an annual report.

Healey said her enforcement of the open meeting law helps “promote good governance and transparency across the state.”

The division ordered a range of remedial actions for those found in violation of the law including: creation of open meeting minutes; release of executive session minutes; and attendance at training sessions on the law.

One public body that does not have to comply with the open meeting law is the 200-member Massachusetts Legislature — which exempted itself from the law.